Catholic, Jewish or "CaJu"?

On my first trip to Cape Verde, I discovered the Cashew fruit. I had always known the cashew, which is pronounced “Caju” in Portuguese, to be a nut. But it’s actually a fruit AND a nut. All these years, I believed the cashew was only a nut – Who knew?!?!? It was during this same trip that I first realized my own Jewish ancestry – Who knew?!?!? All this time I believed my family was Catholic but, as I learned more of my ancestry, I realized that many of our traditions were, in fact, based in the Jewish faith.

So, if you’re born and raised in the Catholic Church but practiced Jewish traditions, are you Catholic or Jewish? This is a questions that many Cape Verdeans may begin asking themselves as we begin to seriously consider the impact of Jewish ancestry in Cape Verde. I jokingly referred to being a “CaJu” with a friend of mine, who also recently found out about his Jewish roots. Is it possible to be Catholic AND Jewish – basically, a “Ca-Ju”?

I was baptized in the Church, confirmed in the Church, and went to Catholic schools all the way through high school. But when it came to certain practices, what my family practiced differed a bit from what I was being taught in school. The starkest difference was the practice of the Nodjadu, or mourning period, which closely resembles the Jewish practice of sitting Shiva. As with many traditions passed down through my family, I cannot imagine doing things any differently.

Last week, I was honored to participate in the Annual Cape Verdean Jewish Sedar in Boston and was struck by the truth of this reality. I am a descendant of two groups of very strong people who survived a history of indescribable horrors for merely being who they were. So it was with great pride that I spoke to this group of Jews and Cape Verdeans about our shared history.  Because of our ancestors, we all have the freedom to be and to live how we’d like to. We are free to worship how we’d like. And I am free to be a Catholic or a Jew and even a “CaJu” if I please.


Press Release- Creola Genealogist will speak at the Cape Verde Progressive Center March 23,2013

For immediate release

March 6, 2013

East Providence, RI – The Creola Genealogist, Anna Lima Delgado, will speak about Cape Verdean History and Genealogy at the Cape Verde Progressive Center at 329 Grosvenor Avenue in East Providence, Rhode Island on March 23,  2013. This event will take place from 1-4pm.

“I have been interested in my family history since as long as I can remember. I was that pesky kid constantly asking questions of anyone who would answer me. Countless hours were spent listening to my grandmother and great grandmother talking about the “old country”. After a while, I could basically tell you anything about the island of Brava, Cape Verde as if I had actually been there!”

Ms. Lima Delgado will speak about tracing her family history from Massachusetts and Rhode Island back to the islands of Brava and Fogo, Cape Verde. Her path to discovery not only uncovered names and birth dates of her ancestors but also an unexpected discovery of her family’s Jewish roots. She will speak about having genealogical DNA testing that revealed Tuscan Italian lineage and a connection to distant genetic cousin who was adopted at birth and was able to finally meet her biological siblings.

This will also be an opportunity for people to learn about resources available in the US and Cape Verde and begin their own family trees, as well, as have access to extensive research and records of Cape Verdean families from the islands of Brava, Fogo, and Boa Vista.

Anna Lima Delgado is a second-generation Cape Verdean – American from Brockton, Ma who currently resides in Bowie, Md. She received her Masters degree in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts- Amherst and began doctoral work in Linguistics at Boston University. She has been a Speech and Language Pathologist for the last 15 years and currently has a private-practice in Maryland. She has been researching Cape Verdean Crioulo linguistics, history and genealogy for several years.
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